Being a user of Textpattern, I should have a vested interested in any developments in that venerable web platform. However, the latest release came out at the end of August unbeknownst to me and that’s with an entry on the Dev Blog. Those blog entries come irregularly so that might have been how I missed it but there were other things going on in my life like the installation of new windows in my house and weekends spent in Scotland and Ireland.
Still, the whole release was more low key than, say, a new version of WordPress where many would be shouting how important the upgrade would be and with messages turning up on blog administration screens too. There may be good reason for this given the recent problems experienced by those who fail to keep up with progress. Of course, WordPress is a major target for unwanted attention so it’s best to keep your wits about you. The low key nature of Textpattern might be an asset when it comes to warding off miscreants and its greater compatibility with more technically minded folk may help security too. Saying all of that may be pure speculation but you only have to look at the world of operating systems to see how the idea came into my mind.
A later posting on the Txp blog tells you about the new goodies available in release 4.2.0 but here’s a short selection to whet your appetite: themes for the administration area, multiple sites and new tags. Upgrading proved painless though I did try it out on an offline version of the microsite where I use Textpattern before making a move on its online counterpart. All went smoothly but it’s alway best to look before you leap or a site rebuild might be in order and no one needs that.
There have been several recorded instances of Google acquiring something and then not developing it to its full potential. FeedBurner is yet another acquisition where this sort of thing has been suspected. Changeovers by monolithic edict and lack of responsiveness from support fora are the sorts of things that breed resentment in some that share opinions on the web. Within the last month, I found that my FeedBurner feeds were not being updated as they should have been and it would not accept a new blog feed when I tried adding it. The result of both these was that I got to deactivating the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin to take FeedBurner out of the way for my feed subscribers; those regulars on my hillwalking blog were greeted by a splurge of activity following something of a hiatus. There are alternatives such as RapidFeed and Pheedo but I will stay away from the likes of these for a little while and take advantage of the newly added FeedStats plugin to keep tabs on how many come to see the feeds. The downside to this is that IE6 users will see the pure XML rather than a version with a more friendly formatting.
Over the last few days, I have been noticing from various that this blog isn’t performing as I would want it. The first hint was a comment on a tuxmachines.org mention for a recent entry (thanks for the support, by the way) that the link wasn’t working as it should have been. Add to this various emails from Are My Sites Up? saying that the site seemed to be down. By all accounts, this free service that I found through Lifehacker would appear to be doing its job and without the annoying advertising emails that Internetseer used to send me in addition to its weekly report when I used its free service. In fact, that you get alert emails several times a day is a factor in favour of the newcomer.
With one exception, these problems would appear to be intermittent. The exception was when I went using the WP Super Cache WordPress plugin and it seemed to result in breakage of the site so it got disabled even if it is meant to be helpful during episodes of heavy load. Otherwise, the outages would seem to be general flakiness of the service provided by my hosting provider. I have a site with them on an older server and that seems to fare far better than the one playing host to this blog. This sort of thing does make me wonder if we are getting real progress or whether it’s a case of one step forward and two steps back. Nevertheless, I’ll continue keeping an eye on things and, if there is too much deterioration, a move might be in order but that’s a good bit away yet.
Here’s a trick that might have its uses: using a local WordPress instance to update your online blog (yes, there are plenty of applications that promise to edit your online blog but these need file permissions to the likes of xmlrpc.php to be opened up). Along with the right database access credentials and the ability to log in remotely, adding the following two lines to wp-config.php does the trick:
These two constants override what is in the database and allow to update the online database from your own PC using WordPress running on a local web server (Apache or otherwise). One thing to remember here is that both online and offline directory structures are similar. For example, if your online WordPress files are in blog in the root of the online web server file system (typically htdocs for Linux), then they need to be contained in the same directory in the root of the offline server too. Otherwise, things could get confusing and perhaps messy. Another thing to consider is that you are modifying your online blog so the usual rules about care and attention apply, particularly with respect to using the same version of WordPress both locally and remotely. This is especially a concern if you, like me, run development versions of WordPress to see if there are any upheavals ahead of us like the overhaul that is coming in with WordPress 2.7.
An alternative use of this same trick is to keep a local copy of your online database in case of any problems while using a local WordPress instance to work with it. I used to have to edit the database backup directly (on my main Ubuntu system), first with GEdit but then using a sed command like the following:
sed -e s/www\.onlinewebsite\.com/localhost/g backup.sql > backup_l.sql
The -e switch uses regular expression substitution that follows it to edit the input with the output being directed to a new file. It’s slicker than the interactive GEdit route but has been made redundant by defining constants for a local WordPress installation as described above.